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Onwards: Three Matchups That Will Define Round 1.

I won’t be doing my normal post game observations and notes. I do want to comment a little bit on what happened Sunday afternoon, when the Bills won their sixth straight game. I want to note how sweet it was to not only watch Josh EASILY pick apart what is supposed to be the NFL’s best secondary, but how simply joyful it was to watch Matt Barkely tear up the same secondary with Gabe Davis alone. I will never be too old to enjoy the misery of the Dolphins and their fans. Averaging over 47 points per game over the last three games, Buffalo’s offense will enter Saturday’s Colt game firing on all cylinders.  

Saturday is the start of a new season. Take a lesson from the Ravens last year, point differential means nothing come January. The Bills cannot afford a slip up in any facet Saturday, even against a seven seed, 6.5 point underdog. 

Bills Run Defense vs Colts Run Game

  • This may be the deciding match up of the game. The 11th ranked rushing attack of Indianapolis versus the 17th rank run defense of the Bills. The benefit of The Colts running the ball goes beyond just racking up yards. Teams do not want to give Josh Allen the football. Running the football effectively will allow the Colt to create a shorter game and keep the potent Bills offense off the field. Bills will need to be stout up front with Ed Oliver, Quinton Jefferson, Vernon Butler, and Harriso Phillips. Like past weeks, the best defense for Buffalo will be a quick start to their offense. Phillip Rivers’ best football is behind him. If the Bills can get up early and force the game into his hands, the game could turn Buffalo’s way quickly.   
Jan 3, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) runs the ball while Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Chris Claybrooks (27) defends in the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Bills Pass Protection vs Colts Pass Rush 

  • The Colts are 15th in pass rush win rate, led by Deforest Bunkner and Justin Houston with their combined 17.5 sacks. The Colts blitz the second least amount in the league. Despite that, they are eighth in team sacks in the NFL. Matt Eberfluf has built his head coaching resume on getting home with just for rushers. The Bills offensive line will need to keep Josh Allen, mainly Daryl Williams and Dion Dawkins against Buckner and Houston. Both played well against a similarly challenging Steeler pass rush, but had their lunch money taken by Joey Bosa and the Chargers. A repeat of the Chargers game could be devastating. On the flips side, the Bills have only allowed 6 sacks in the last six games.

Bills Wide Receivers vs Colts Secondary   

  • Starting corner Rock Ya-Sin will be missing from a Colts Secondary that already struggles, coming into the game ranked 20th in pass defense, compared to a 2nd rated run defense. This has the potential to be a very pass happy game for the Bills if the Colts can’t show the ability to stifle Allen early. The last four games Daboll has let the game flow through Josh’s hand, and he has been rewarded with the best performances of Josh’s career. Additionally, an effective passing game could open the running game, should the Bills have to milk clock to end the game.  

Author notes:

All stats from ESPN and Pro Football Reference.

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